It will be a different Friday before Easter this year. Perhaps we should prepare our hearts for it more than ever! We, as Christians, always have referred to this special day as GOOD FRIDAY. A reason for saying it is “good” is because it is the beginning of the journey of our Savior to the cross, Who gave Himself for the people of the world. The Friday had to come before the glorious Easter Day of RESURRECTION. So, how do we prepare these few days before Friday…especially if there are some who don’t understand this special day of Christian worship?
For my readers throughout the world who may not be Christian, this may help you understand the Power of the Cross in Christianity. Please read with an open mind. Ask God to speak to you and give you His truth of salvation. May you find, through the power of the Holy Spirit, your trust in the Savior Who came to be punishment for all your sins and mine.
THE PROPHECY OF CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION was given to the Jews within their own Hebrew scriptures. Not only does the New Testament give this account, but parts of the Old Testament give the crucifixion as a prophecy of the events to happen. One of these is in Psalms 21, “My God, my God why have You forsaken me…O my God, I cry out by day and you answer not. I cry out by night and there is no relief for me. All my bones are racked. My heart has become like wax melting away within my chest. My throat is dried up like baked clay, My tongue cleaves to my jaw. They have pierced my hands and my feet…” Psalm 68 “…in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
THE HISTORY of the STATIONS OF THE CROSS:
In many churches and cathedrals around the world, there are pictures of the Stations of the Cross. Having originated in Jerusalem, the pictures are to duplicate Jesus’ trip on the Via Dolorosa before his crucifixion. Jerusalem fell to the forces of Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria in 1187. Forty years later Saint Francis of Assisi, a Franciscan, came back to Jerusalem and proclaimed certain holy places as places of Christian devotion. During the 15th and 16th centuries, they built outdoor shrines which later were introduced as stations. Faithful Christians read the gospels as they visit these stations to remember the suffering of the Savior…usually on Fridays. There are traditionally 14 pictorial stations mounted on church walls. The resurrection station is sometimes included as the last station because without the resurrection of Christ, there is no gospel.
Pictures of selected Stations of the Cross from around the world:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that Whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
In the past, on Good Friday, concerts are given around the world. Often these are requiems of a somber nature. This year, because of the Coronavirus, the depictions throughout Europe and other part of the world will not be reenacted. The great concert halls will be empty. Yet, we must not allow this to change our focus on the great sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We will turn to our TV’s and recordings and bow our heads as we remember the terrible day on the cross. In just a few days after Friday will come the great morning of RESURRECTION. Prepare your hearts now with the beautiful music I’d like to share with you today…Laudate Dominum by Mozart, sung by Aksel Rykkvin
(After the music…come back to see the pages of the Stations of the Cross.)
- TURN UP SOUND and enlarge picture for best viewing.
- 2nd link showing the description of the Stations of the Cross
Click this link below and follow each station by clicking on “next”:
Jesus had just performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. People around this event had actually seen this miracle happen after Lazarus had been buried four days. There was no doubt about it. Throughout His ministry on earth there had been many miracles: water to wine, healing the leper, the blind and the sick.
The word of this particular miracle spread quickly and when Jesus found a donkey to ride through the streets, the crowds came out to meet him in a frenzy. Surely this man was going to save them from the Romans and become their King and Messiah.
They called out to him, giving him the name of not only “king”, but also “Prophet, Son of David, the Messiah, and the Hope of Israel.” There was great excitement and expectation that things would change for them through this man who did great and wondrous things. The crowd threw down palm branches before him as they would a great leader or someone they were ready to make their ruler. They shouted “Hosannah!” Many Christian churches reenact this event on Palm Sunday.
Since previous posts have been about LENT and MAUNDY THURSDAY, perhaps it would be good to put into sequence the main Christian days of the Easter Holy Week prior to Easter:
- Ash Wednesday (Ashes placed on the forehead for prayer, fasting and sorrow for sins in repentance) Job, Jerimiah, Daniel, Mathew and Luke are a few scriptures where this is described.
- Palm Sunday (Triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem)
- Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper, washing of disciple’s feet, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and the arrest by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin )
- Good Friday (The Crucifixion)
- Easter Sunday (The Resurrection of Christ, the Messiah)
The Jews knew the Holy Scriptures. David had taken an oath to Saul that he would make certain that the descendants would not be destroyed. (1st Samuel 26) Jesus Christ, being from the line of David, could possibly in their minds be the Messiah or Mashiach which means the “anointed” one.
Original Hebrew Word: מָשִׁ֫יחַ
Phonetic Spelling: (maw-shee’-akh)
Jesus knew what was going to happen to him and that He had not come to be an earthly king, but to be a Savior and the Messiah for Whom the Jews had been waiting.
Many Jews, even today, have through the study of the Holy Scriptures, both old and new, have found Christ to be their Messiah. These are often referred to as Messianic Jews. (For personal stories of Messianic Jews, see the link after the video.)
VIDEO (Turn up sound)
Forty days and Forty nights is the time for Christian believers to observe Lent.
Lent is a time of reflection, prayer, and repentance. We at Boyer Writes will take this time to bring to you a special thought or two during Lent. It is our hope and prayer that it will speak to someone who is reading and seeking more of Jesus Christ in their lives.
We begin with the book of Job, found in the Old Testament of the Holy Scriptures. We ask the question why a man who loved God with all his heart would be allowed to be tested in every area of his life? Satan said to God that Job would certainly deny Him and even curse Him if the things he held dear were taken away. What were those things?
- His wealth and possessions
- His family
- His health
This many years later, those things do not sound any different from what the modern day person may cherish. Job’s many possessions were stolen by bandits; a storm killed his children and much more!
By this illustration, it seems that God does allow testing. Do we understand it? Not really…at least not fully. Why would God allow something terrible to happen to a believer in order to prove Satan wrong? We may not get an answer to that question until we meet God face to face.
We often hear people say that God wanted to take someone when there was an accident or sickness. I never believed that a loving God deliberately brings evil. He does allow man to have free will and we suffer the consequences to our actions or the actions of others. Health issues often overtake us because of pollution, the environment, or disease. The natural result of all these things is inevitable. Difficulties are a part of life that can not be easily explained.
Job did what most people would not do or say : Job arose , tore his robe, shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.
We won’t get ahead of ourselves, but if you want to peek to the end of the book, you will find out how God made everything right for Job. God would reward him greater than he had ever been rewarded.
At this time of Lent, there will be readers who are going through some extremely hard times and perhaps doubts about faith. One may say that he/she could never have this kind of relationship with God. This is understandable, but sometimes in the middle of the trials, we must wait and seek…resting and believing that He will find a way to make us understand. The answer that we look for is probably not in the dramatic or what we even expect…but in a small still voice……a gentle whisper. (1st Kings 19)To best view the video below, turn on the sound and enlarge.
IT IS FINISHED
As I walked outside the main gate of Auschwitz in Poland, a man sat by the roadside. He carefully held a piece of wood. It was a part of a birch tree and carved in the middle was the face of Christ. Large, sharp thorns had been placed across the forehead. This man looked at me with the hopes that I would buy this from him, which I did. The workmanship was extraordinary, even though crude. It said so much about this man and what he had made, but more so about this place where he sat.
Just inside these gates, millions of innocent Jews had been put to death. This man had made the carved face of a Jew Who was put to death and no one could find any wrong in him. As Pilot said, ” I find no case against him.”
THIS WAS A SUFFERING JEW CARVED ON A TREE OUTSIDE THE GATE OF SOME OF THE WORST OF HUMAN SUFFERING.
Jesus also sat outside the gate where he would be taken before a mob, mocked, and put to death. He prayed for the people of the world who would believe in Him, saying His hour had come and His work on earth was finished. Even though He knew the suffering that He was to endure, His thoughts were of protection and love for those who believed the words He spoke and saw the miracles He performed. Jesus said:
“Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me so that they may be one, as We are One….
I have given them Your word and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world…I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me…
Father, I desire that those also whom you have given Me may be with Me where I am… to see My glory which You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Inside the gate of Auschwitz, just a few feet from where the man was sitting…many years before… horrors happened. One of the things that I saw in one of the torture chambers was a wall where someone had scratched a cross. We know that Christians suffered and died there also. Nothing in Auschwitz can be romanticized. Neither can the crucifixion of Jesus.
Even though great art masters have painted beautiful portraits to inspire us, the crucifixion was real torture given perfection by the Romans. The preparation for a glorious Easter Sunday when Christ rises from the dead is a solemn time. This is why the altars of the churches are stripped bare of all ornamentation or flowers. There was nothing lovely about death.
The video below is realistic with the music asking a question, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Perhaps we need realism when we actually consider what Christ endured.
Job was a pillar of his community. He would have been the “big guy on campus” if he were younger. This is what he said about himself:
“When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square; the young men withdrew and the aged rose up and stood…I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy and I championed the cause of the stranger…They listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel…sat as a chief and I lived like a king…”
That was then and reality is now for Job. He has lost it all. There is another scripture passage that reads like this:
In the Book of Luke, Jesus said,”…If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” (Some translations: “…or lose your soul”)
Job was not losing his soul, but his life as he was experiencing it was intolerable. Being powerful, wealthy, or honored does not mean that life can’t change in an instant…even if we have the ability to live like kings.
For those who have traveled outside the USA or from your home in Europe and Asia to third world countries, it is apparent that we do live like kings comparatively. The future is uncertain economically, politically, and environmentally. The horrors of war and terrorism; the destruction of tornadoes; starvation and famine strike with no respect for a person’s status, education, or wealth. It can all be “out the window” for us as it was for Job. Only then do we truly know our character and the strength of our faith. At this time of Lent, we must lay our futures before the altar of God, for only He knows what will come next.
Recently I learned of a story of a modern-day man, named Pastor L.M Jeyamohan. He was born in Malaysia, lost his mother when he was 2 years old. En route to London via India he lost his 35-year-old father in India, thus becoming an orphan at an early age of 10. Because of this hardship in life, he felt led of God to start an orphanage in India. He believed as Isaiah says, “ He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor …”
In this case, Pastor Jeyomohan did not live like a king…never had…but he believed that he could take his misfortune and suffering…. and bring hope and life to others. Below is a video of the girls at the orphanage, Michael’s Children”s Home, in India.
The questions that all religions and people of the world wrestle with is WHY? Why do people suffer when they have apparently done no wrong? Can we trace the root cause to any of the following?
- Original sin of man
- Choices that are made by men and women.
- Decisions that are made for or about people by their governments or rulers
It is definite that God has given free will to men. They are not puppets. He wants us to love Him and to do the right and just thing to each other.
The story of Job in the Hebrew and Christian Holy Scriptures is a story that can be found similarly throughout the world in various beliefs. Suffering has no boundaries. It is usually men bringing on other men a constant rivalry that leads to pain.
For Job, suffering was caused by a heavenly battle between Satan and God with Job caught in the middle. On the surface it seems so unfair. In Job’s case, God brings happiness to him in the end. This is not true for so many. Begging the question….Why does a loving God allow this…or does it once again make a large circle back to man and his decisions …or things like environmental pollution that makes one sick? Is it God’s fault or ours?
Below is a video by Biography “Mysteries of the Bible”. Those who analyze the story of Job and the question of suffering do not represent Christian thought…but do challenge us as mature Christians to ponder many questions during this time of Lent and soul-searching.